Bordeaux 2015: First Taste
Monday was a fascinating day with, as planned, a mix of visits taking in tastings of 2013 Bordeaux, a poke around the cellars looking at how the embryonic 2015 vintage is doing, and some visits to hitherto unfamiliar domaines.
I kicked off proceedings at Château Haut-Bailly, where after a tasting of the 2013 vintage (first and second wines) I joined winemaker Gabriel Vialard in the cellars to hear about the 2015 harvest and vinifications so far. We tasted from a lot of vats, including old-vine Merlot, young-vine Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. So here goes with the first-ever tasting note on 2015 you are likely to read:
Vat #1: Young-vine Merlot (pictured below). Planted in 2006. Not long finished maceration. Full and sweet, grippy, textured, with a big, firm structure in the finish.
Vat #2: Old-vine Merlot. Dark, spicy, and surprisingly perfumed for this variety. Exciting, creamed fruit, spicy like the nose.
Vat #3: Cabernet Franc. From 50-year old vines. Gabriel found this cuve to be very aromatic during remontage, with a prominent raspberry aroma. Dark and profound now. Perfumed, violets, creamy-textured fruit, spicy too.
Vat #4: Petit Verdot. From 3-year old vines, newly planted, their first vintage. A dense hue, almost black. A classic Petit Verdot nose, pencil shavings, spicy, perfumed just a little. Tannic but it is ripe, with a spicy, acid-cleansed finish.
Vat #5: Cabernet Sauvignon – the first vat to finish fermentation. From vines managed using organic methods. Softly textured, despite this being Cabernet. Lovely freshness and acid zip here, with a soft grip in the finish.
You can’t extrapolate from cuve samples to a wine with any validity, and you certainly can’t make a judgement on the vintage. But what I will say is these individual samples tasted better than anything I tasted from 2011, 2012 and 2013, and in themselves they taste more complete than many wines I have tasted from 2014 as well. There is certainly a huge potential in this vintage, but we will have to wait for the primeurs to taste anything other than components and half-made wines, and to make a more ‘formal’ judgement. But 2015 seems likely to cause some excitement – “everybody in Bordeaux is really happy with 2015″ is the stock phrase of the moment (I must have heard it half-a-dozen times since I arrived), and tasting these samples I can understand why.
I will give more detail on this visit and Gabriel’s comments in the vintage in a later post, this is just a taster. Thereafter it was on to Château Haut-Brion, where I tasted 2013s, and Château Pape-Clément where again I tasted 2013s, and had a quick tour of the various cuveries and cellars (I have never looked around here before – there is an impressive cellar of large formats). Lunch was on the road before I rolled up at Château Reynon to meet Denis Dubourdieu for a tasting of his wines and basically just to chew the cud with the man himself. This was a château I haven’t visited before, and I am grateful to Denis for his insights into Bordeaux terroir, and for the tasting of Château Reynon, Clos Floridène, Château Cantegril and Château Doisy-Daëne.
I finished the day in sweet mode, first calling in at Château d’Yquem to taste the 2013 with the winemaker, the absolutely charming and very helpful Sandrine Garbay, and then I concluded my visits at Château de Cérons, where I spent an hour or two with proprietor Xavier Perromat and his wife Christine. Xavier and Christine have only secured possession of the property in the last three years, so it was fascinating to hear of their grand projects for improving the estate. They have 30 hectares of vines, which includes 27 hectares for Graves (and the wines are very pleasant) and 3 hectares for Cérons, a significant chunk of the 21 hectares eligible for this appellation in all Bordeaux (surely the region’s smallest appellation by far?). Well, I did say I was going to spend some time off the beaten cru classé track during this visit.
These early Bordeaux 2015 reports are essentially funded by Winedoctor subscribers, the first purpose of this latest trip to Bordeaux having been to taste 2013s for a forthcoming report on that vintage. If you find these reports interesting, please consider taking out a subscription to Winedoctor.